Amazon discontinued the ability to create images using their SiteStripe feature and in their infinite wisdom broke all previously created images on 12/31/23. Many blogs used this feature, including this one. Expect my archives to be a hot mess of broken book cover images until I can slowly comb through 20 years of archives to make corrections.

Monday, October 16, 2023

The Struggle Continues: Unusual Historicals for October 2023

For those playing along at home, Amazon's trash advanced search function is still trash.  The good news is that I'm a librarian and have access to other industry tools that allow me to get a better handle on searching for traditionally published unusual historical romances.  The bad news is that Amazon has such a stranglehold on the self-published market that their search function being trash means I'm undoubtedly missing a wide swath of self-published titles when putting together these posts.  Sorry folks, I'm one woman and doing the best I can. Sharing is caring, so be sure to leverage the comments is you know of a self-published title I've missed. 

Major Rufus d'Aumesty has unexpectedly become the Earl of Oxney, master of a remote Norman manor on the edge of the infamous Romney Marsh. There he's beset on all sides, his position contested both by his greedy uncle and by Luke Doomsday, son of a notorious smuggling clan. 

The earl and the smuggler should be natural enemies, but cocksure, enragingly competent Luke is a trained secretary and expert schemer—exactly the sort of man Rufus needs by his side. Before long, Luke becomes an unexpected ally...and the lover Rufus had never hoped to find. 

But Luke came to Stone Manor with an ulterior motive, one he's desperate to keep hidden even from the lord he can't resist. As the lies accumulate and family secrets threaten to destroy everything they hold dear, master and man find themselves forced to decide whose side they're really on…and what they're willing to do for love.
The second book in Charles' Doomsday Book series is actually a September release I missed because Amazon is trash. Ahem, anyway - I've seen scads of reviews for this already in Romancelandia, but I'm going to highlight Miss Bates' because, well because. What Charles I've read, I've liked - I really need to read more.

A wedding to save her from scandal 

A bride to save his heart? 

After the death of his beloved brother and mother, Randolph, the Duke of Elmsend, feels his life is empty. So, he’s in no mood to entertain the rambunctious Harrington family while they’re in London. Then he meets Abigail, their governess. When her reputation is in jeopardy, he does the unimaginable—propose! But whilst Randolph can offer her a ring, can he ever offer her a real marriage? 

I'm a sucker for a cross-class romance, mainly because I have this morbid fascination to see if the author can pull it off and make me believe it won't be an utter disaster. Our hero is a Duke, our heroine a governess - and naturally he does the honorable thing when her reputation comes under scrutiny. Webster has a book in my keeper stash, I really need to read more.

Before Josephine Brown began working as a blade expert for Farnham's Fantastical Female Fayre, she'd never stayed put for long. She'd never had friends, either. Nor had she allowed herself to open her heart to a man. Yet now, as part owner of the circus, she's suddenly forming real friendships. And then there is her attraction to clever, handsome Honorable Elliot Wingate—whose life she happened to save. After forever fleeing her past, the last man she should choose is one who ferrets out secrets on behalf of King and Country . . . 

Elliot was fascinated by Jo “Blade” Brown even before he witnessed her lethal gifts, firsthand. He's never met a woman who is such an intoxicating combination of self-sufficiency, beauty, and mystery. He's never been in love before, but there is no denying he's fallen hard. Yet each time Elliot tries to get closer to Jo, she slips farther away. If he reveals what’s in his heart, will he risk driving her away for good? 

As their investigation—and her feelings for Elliot—stir up Jo’s deeply buried, extremely dangerous secrets, she'll have to decide whether to run once again, or trust somebody at last...
This is the third book in Spencer's Wicked Women of Whitechapel series and y'all I need to go on a historical romance reading tear because I still have the first two books in my TBR. A heroine with secrets, who also knows how to handle a blade - I might be a little in love with her already.

Is the wife the Highlander seeks 

…already by his side? 

Back from battle, Hamilton of Clan Graham makes a bet with his brother to find a wife by summer’s end. So, the Scottish warrior enlists the help of his childhood friend, Beileag, to help him woo his perfect woman. But like Hamilton, Beileag has changed whilst he’s been away…and she intrigues him like never before! His focus should be on winning a bride. Yet why is Beileag all he can think about? 

I'll be honest, I tend to skim over "Highlander" the way I skim over "Duke" because Scottish historicals have never really gone out of fashion in Romancelandia. But this one is a medieval, set in the late 13th century and is the second book in Locke's Lovers and Highlanders series. Also, it's a friends-to-lovers romance, one of my favorite tropes and not one we see all that often in historicals.

A duke with secrets. 

Lucian, the newly minted Duke of Penning, has much to prove— to himself, his family and the ton. Craving spotless respectability, he must find an aristocratic wife. Unfortunately, he can’t keep his eyes—and thoughts—off his deliciously distracting housekeeper. Such a dalliance can only mar the facade he's constructed to protect his sisters' future from the demons of his past...but this fiery passion is a temptation he cannot resist. While Susanna may not the bride he needs, she is everything he desires. 

A woman with a past. 

As the housekeeper to one of the grandest estates in England, Susanna Lockhart has worked determinedly to become all that is proper and efficient, and she never steps over the line. Romance is an indulgence for the upper class, not for her—and most especially not with her employer. But every smoldering glance from the surly, handsome duke calls to the long-buried reckless wanton inside Susanna. A love between them can never be, but will Lucian and Susanna risk being together… 

Even if it starts a scandal... 
I remember this cover making the rounds on social media and honestly - the hero looks in pain...or like he's trying to identify some foul odor 😂.  Anyway, this fourth book in Jordan's Duke Hunt series is another cross-class romance - a Duke hero, a housekeeper heroine. Will it be compelling? Will it be a hot mess? That's half the fun!

Back to claim his crown 

…and his wife! 

Prince Teon married the Viking chief's daughter Revna to prevent a war, only to leave immediately to fight another one. Now, he’s returned to claim his crown! He’s stunned to discover the love his people have for Revna, and by the intensity of their unexpected connection. Teon tells himself he only needs Revna as an ally, until the passion of their belated wedding night promises they could be so much more… 

This stand-alone from Rodi is a marriage of convenience with a Viking twist. An alliance was needed to keep peace, only for the hero to find himself off at war and returning home to a wife he doesn't know. I love this set-up and this one is going on the pile...because of course it is.

Reunited with her captain 

…under the mistletoe! 

Mounting debts mean that Elanora is about to lose her family home, Heartsease. When her childhood friend, Captain Tristan Lennox, returns from war, she’s embarrassed by her reduced circumstances. Especially as Tristan has made his fortune and is excited about his first English Christmas in years! Yet she can’t help being swept up by Tristan’s festive spirit, even if she should ignore the intoxicating new attraction to her old friend…


This stand-alone from Scott is a Victorian, set in 1846 - so it predates the Crimean War but there were plenty of skirmishes our Captain hero was likely involved in, being what sounds like a career Army man. Also, it looks like our hero isn't the brooding one here, happy to be home over the holidays and becoming reacquainted with the heroine, now living under reduced circumstances.  Another friends-to-lovers romance - yippee!

Even if we ignore the fact I forgot to highlight the Charles book in September, this is still a rather robust month for Unusual Historicals. What are you looking forward to reading?


azteclady said...

I already have the Charles--because of course I do--and requested the Spencer over at NetGalley. If I don't get an ARC, I'm still getting the book, because I have really liked the previous two in the series and her writing voice (at least so far).

I must try at least one of the Rodis--I'm very much a fan of Viking-era set romances, we should have many more.

I got the Webster you recommended a few months ago; if the writing voice clicks, I may try something else by her--though I confess that most of the publisher blurbs for her books feel like standard historical category fare.

Jill said...

I'm reading a historical for the TBR challenge and I have my fingers crossed that I will both finish it in time and have good things to say b/c I think if it meets both those things it will definitely fit in the "unusual historical" category.

SonomaLass said...

I read the first of Minerva Spencer's Wicked Women, The Boxing Baroness, and really enoyed it. I also FINALLY read A Debutante in Diguise by Eleanor Webster, which I bought back when you recommended it. So those are on my radar, and hopefully I'll add a few more from your list. It's been a long time since I was able to enjoy historical romance, and I don't want to mess this up!

Janet Webb said...

I feel like I'm on a bit of a roll. I've read two Websters and last night inhaled The Captain Who Saved Christmas. Friends to lovers, lovely. Do you think there will be a book about Tristan's older brother Julien? I couldn't find an author website. Janet Webb

Darlene Marshall said...

I enjoyed the Boxing Baroness so I'm anxious to read more Minerva Spencer. Thanks for the review of her latest!

Wendy said...

AL: Right now I seem to be a mystery/suspense kind of mood, but I need to get back to historicals because the number of Harlequin Historicals I have in the TBR is frankly ridiculous - including several by Webster.

Jill: Yes! For those that didn't see Jill's comment on my TBR Challenge post, she read Silken Threads by Patricia Ryan, which is an Unusual Historical.

SonomaLass: Baby steps 😉. I highly recommend sample reading and leveraging your public library, if that's a good option for you.

Janet: Sigh. Scott has a blog that she was using like a web site, but it hasn't been updated since 2022 so at this point your guess about Julien is as good as mine.

Darlene: 😁

azteclady said...

@Wendy: I forever mourn how much authors gave up on updating websites/blogs in favor of social media; especially now, it's almost impossible to get reliable updates for many of them.